This is a promotional article for the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF).
Over a half century ago, only two years after its founding in 1961, the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), also known in Korean as NongHyup, applied for membership to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the global representative of the cooperative movement.
Embroiled in the political tensions of the Cold War, the fledgling organization most likely sought the recognition membership in an international organization would confer.
The ICA accepted this newly-formed cooperative from a poor country rebuilding from the ashes of war. NACF was granted associate rather than full member status, however, as its head at the time had been appointed by the Korean president, in violation of the ICA principle of “autonomy and independence.”
For 10 years, NACF participated in the international cooperative movement as an associate member until 1973, when the ICA General Assembly in Warsaw, Poland, abolished associate
membership, thereby granting NACF full membership.
Since the beginning, NACF has enthusiastically participated in the activities of ICA. In 1981, the still-young organization hosted the Asia regional board meeting, and in 1983, despite not being a board member organization at the time, it hosted the global board meeting in Seoul.
Historically, and particularly with regards to governance, the ICA has been dominated by cooperators from Western Europe and North America. During the 119 years since its founding in 1895, all of its presidents have come from those regions, as have all of its director generals but one.
Last year, for the first time in its history, ICA convened its biennial general assembly on the African continent, in Cape Town, South Africa. The agenda for that meeting included many important items such as the Blueprint for a Cooperative Decade, but of special note was the election for the new global board.
While there was only one very promising candidate for the ICA presidency, Dame Pauline Green from the United Kingdom, the competition for the board was unprecedentedly fierce. Some 31 highly qualified cooperative leaders from 30 countries ran for positions on the 15-member board.
▲ Photo courtesy
Among such a competitive field was Mr. Choi Won-Byung, the chairman of NACF, representing all Korean cooperatives. Mr. Choi ranked third in the election results, before all of the candidates from the cooperative movement’s so-called continent of origin, Europe.
Contextually, this rise of an Asian organization in a world traditionally dominated by European organizations bears some resemblance to the rise of the Korean athlete Son Yeon-Jae in the world of rhythmic gymnastics, traditionally dominated by East European athletes.
Three years ago, a former advisor, an Indian, from the ICA regional office for the Asia-Pacific visited NACF and recalled an earlier visit, back in 1967, when he brought a simple typewriter as a gift for that young organization. In the intervening years
NACF has become one of the top cooperatives in the world and a dedicated supporter of the cooperative movement, now providing agricultural machinery and scholarships to sister organizations in developing countries.
Over half a century has passed since NACF struggled to acquire associate membership in the International Cooperative Alliance. Now the best-known cooperative organization in Korea, NACF is becoming a global cooperative which leads the international cooperative movement.
The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF or NongHyup) is an apex organization of 1160 agricultural cooperatives and represents 2.4 million Korean farmers. With 28 subsidiaries it operates businesses in agricultural and livestock marketing and supply, banking, and insurance.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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